Bonum Certa Men Certa

Patent Caution: Microsoft Site a Campaign to Change Europe to Microsoft's Benefit

Smell the lobbyists and patent trolls

The affairs of Microsoft with European leaders is something that was explored here before. Using funds, favours, visits to one's house and so forth, country leaders can be used to pass specific laws or even to lobby for lock-in such as OOXML. That's the reality.



“It appears to offer some early hints about another Microsoft 'propaganda campaign' for stronger intellectual monopoly.”Apart from direct contact or subversive touch with politicians, there's lobbying (more indirect and subtle) to worry about as well. It's harder to track. All of these things are means of changing the rules until they align with a company's goal.

A new Web page has just been spotted by Digital Majority. It appears to offer some early hints about another Microsoft 'propaganda campaign' for stronger intellectual monopoly. It's part of a whole Web site dedicated to "EU SME Day". The name says very little about the fact that this revolves around Microsoft. Remember Document Freedom Day and the fake site that was erected to deceive? This one rings deja vu.

Microsoft's pressure group, ACT, is neither new to us nor is it a friend [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], but it's already on the programme.

Fighting for Europe’s Community Patent

The European Commission is again gearing up to launch support for a community patent. Association of Comeptitive Technologies (ACT) to explore where entrepreneurs can directly communicate to policy makers why a community patent must succeeed and what it should look like.


Apart from the typos above (perhaps Microsoft's spellchecker broke, wasn't included with Windows by default because you need to purchase Office, or -- as mentioned some hours ago -- requires a patent licence to be obtained), the role of ACT mustn't be ignored. Had Microsoft approached this issue directly, it would have less credibility. So it works by proxy here, just as it did when it sent ACT to fight the EU's antitrust decision, the GPLv3, ODF, and so forth.

The Community Patent is a prelude or a back door to software patents and there are a couple of other rants about software patents which are worth bringing up because they are new. Here is the first one [via Digital Majority], which relates to the Microsoft/Alcatel-Lucent court battles [1, 2, 3, 4].

If Alcatel-Lucent patented this interface, I suppose I should have done the same back in 1987 when I wrote a similar interface for a custom application I was contracted to design. The point is, it’s a CALENDAR! Who owns the patent (or worse, the copyright) on the Gregorian calendar, or the method in which it is used? What about the algorithm used to calculate dates, Easter, leap years, or Daylight Savings Time? It’s not that I’m a huge fan of Microsoft or an opponent of Alcatel-Lucent; I’m neither. But to see items like this make me wonder where the patent issue stops.


Here is a Tech Dirt item which cites a new book on the subject.

James Bessen and Michael Meurer, authors of an important new book on the patent system, have a great post on the problems created specifically by software patents.

[...]

Bessen and Meurer don't offer a strong recommendation on the best way to solve the problems with software patents, but they tentatively endorse a "subject matter test" -- that is, reinstating the ban on software patents -- as one part of a solution to the problem.


While the following is not related to software, it is another example of the nature of patents, which seems not to meet the original goals of the system.

Sony, Sanyo, Others Settle LED Patent Complaint



Four consumer electronics companies, including Sony and Sanyo Electric, have settled a complaint that they were infringing a patent on semiconductors related to LEDs and laser diodes used in products such as mobile phones, billboards, Blu-ray disc players and data storage devices, according to lawyers for the patent holder.


Don't permit this to seem so innocent. To put this in perspective, pay attention to the claimant and recall what we wrote previously about Miss Gertrude 'Embargo' Neumark Rothschild. 30 companies, eh? 'Innovation' never flourished so much.

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